45 minutes with Kim Wilde

Down on the paper, enthusiast convictions of the blond rock’n roll pin-up, Kim Wilde, do sound nice. Interview by Maxime Chavanne.

Kim, it’s the first time that you go on tour. It’s even the first time that you climb up a stage. What are your feelings about it?
Listen, I’ve just given half a dozen of gigs, and that was simply great. First night was kind of unreal. My family was there, a lot of journalists too; english press. I didn’t really expect anything in particular, didn’t know what to feel about it. People had been knowing me through my records, and some wouldn’t have wanted to go further. They prefer considering you as an unreal person. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t want things to be like that, and my Danish public seemed to totally agree. That was incredible. It’s simple : whether it works, or not. And it did.

It must have been a funny experience, as you’re addicted to the studio stuff, recording songs or videos…
Actually, It’s got nothing to do with it. You work with people, not alone. I usually travel by myself : I only have to take care about me, nothing else, in order to do my job properly. It’s something that I’d been waiting for a while: people giving their opinions and sharing their own ideas with me…

Why? Don’t you have a word to say while you’re recording?
Yeah, sure. But when i’m travelling, promoting my songs, they’re not here for giving their opinions. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people travelling, nevertheless this job keeps you isolated a lot. On tour, you have to keep an eye on the group, the public, sound, lights and everyone who’s involved in it. It’s quite different from the little make-up and hairdress disagreements, or the way you look on a TV program. It helps you thinking of something else than yourself. The pleasure that results is as much important as you’re surrounded and encouraged by people. My brother is in the band, and that’s nice.

Who are the other musicians, apart from your brother?
The drummer is the guy who used to play on the first album reggae tracks. We’d never have thought that he would accept to tour with us, as we’d been using a lot of drumkits on the second album. At last, he’s here; and he’s great. The saxophonist is Gary Barnacle; he doesn’t need an introduction (Stray Cats and so on..). Mark Hayward-Chaplin plays the bass; he’s a former Len Lovich musician. Also you’ll find Steve Byrd at the guitar, a guy we recruited in London, and another fabulous one on keyboards, previously playing with Fischer Z. Ricky plays the other keyboards and double guitars. That makes a lot of people? A very good band, actually.

Does your father follow you?
Yes, from the very first day, he hasn’t been missing a single rehearsal. His experience and knowledge help us a lot, me and the other people.

You must have been afraid a lot, during the first show…
Afraid? I was frightened, you mean! I was really scared. Even though I was very confident, as we’d been working a lot on the music, lights and everything, you never know what kind of public you’ll face. In a way, I could have deceived them. But, no, once they hardly saw me, they were terribly excited.

Had you been waiting for that moment for a long time?
Quite a long time. But it was worth waiting for the right moment. We had planned not to tour before the second LP was released, and that’s what we did. By the way, I had a lot of work and I couldn’t have done it before. I think we were right : that’s the first shot. It will probably change much as time goes by; I don’t really intend to repeat the same show during five years, or even one. And the new single is about to be released in UK; when we’ll be touring there, we’ll have time to rehearse, and that will be a brand new thing. At last, the unreleased tracks that we’ve piled up will make a third album.

How many gigs will you perform in UK?
Hmmmm, nineteen I guess.

Do you have a lot of energy?
You bet! I’m in good shape, and got a moral solidity like a rock. I do a lot of jogging when I’m at home. Last four months, that was quite every day!

How many miles?
How many? More and more. At the beginning, it was ridiculous. Then I increased the distances little by little. One, two miles and now four. It may be not a lot, but it’s the only sport that I practice. While I’m on tour, a sort of bodyguard wakes me up early in the morning and trains me. I love that. I love running. I love to feel strong and physically able. I like to control the situation. In life, I don’t like to depend on whatever.

That must be important in order to face the public. That also heals your mind.
Yeah, singing is kind of a hard work. Running is a good therapy.

In France, you gotta practice bodybuilding if you want to be credible…
Do you think that I really need that? (she says, while bulging her muscles out. Not bad…). I prefer listening to my walkman, while I’m running.

Yeah, Jane Fonda’s amazing theories over a poor disco background. “Jane Fonda’s Workout Record”, is that it?
Very funny! No, I don’t think that I could bear her. Okay, I like the beat music, but not her, thanks. I like the Jacksons or the Associates or Spandau ballet. Things that could make you feel like dancing, even when you’re down. I like compiling tracks from the radio, just to see.

Do you know Captain Sensible? He had quite a big success, in England!
No. (laughing.) I gotta take time to listen to a lot of stuff that I promised to discover, by the time.

Kim Wilde, for example?
Kim Wilde? Oohhh, wait. Isn’t she.. that blond bimbo… Hmmm, yeah, right. Actually I did it while I was preparing the tour, repeating the lyrics and finding ideas.

What was your own vision of the stage?
That’s just something else. Singing live is great. It’s another dimension, you discover things that you wouldn’t have imagined in your own songs. In a studio, you feel like you’re singing inside of you. Singing live lets you exteriorize your feelings. Just like when you’re trying to explain something to somebody : you use quite a different language than your own deep one. Even though it expresses the same idea, you have to make a translation. I’ve been learning a lot while touring during a week: if I had not started doing gigs, I’m sure that I would have stagnated, even walked back. So now I’m heading forward. I gotta learn and learn again. Most people stop learning at some point of their lives : when they’re out of shool, when they got married, or whatever, maybe because they decided so, or just because they did not decide anything at all. I don’t want things to be like that : there are so many things to be learned, in life.

Note that “Simple minds are happy minds”…
No. You can always read a book, no-one prevents you from doing it. People who don’t have the opportunity to do it can go to a public library. There are no excuses. Everyone can find excuses and get locked up into barriers. They’re loopholes. Unless you’re absolutely dumb, you generally are conscious of that. Some people try and react, other don’t. You gotta go for it, and know exactly what you’re worth.

You might realize, someday, that rock’n roll is not really your cup of tea?
Why not? I’m very ambitious in several other private or public topics. Especially private ones, by the way. Got a lot of private ambitions.

Just like being a mother?
Yeah!! Exactly! I just gotta find the right man. At the right moment.

Isn’t it difficult to combine that kind of ambitions with your blond pinup image?
Wrong! I may get mistaken, but it seems to me that it’s not easier for anyone else.

What are your other ambitions?
Well… (a silence). First of all, musical ones. Writing my own songs, improving their singing. Being excellent on stage. Being successful. It’s important for me. I wanna be the best, I want to communicate. Sometimes, after a TV show, kids are staring at me; I feel like spending time with them, chatting. I’m watching them, and just thinking “What do you think of me?”, “What do you like in me?”, “What do you do for a living?”, “How old are you?”. It’s terribly strange and frustrating. On stage, there’s some kind of communication, even if it’s much smaller. Luckily I have a fanclub. In the end, I might just be a poor selfish girl…

But you have to, if you wanna keep on being a personality.
It depends on what you mean by “personality”. If you don’t take it seriously, just like a joke, as if being famous was a big joke. I do believe that there’s a place for the artists. Everyone has their own ones, private or public ones. If I really thought that being public was a pure waste of time, I don’t think that I could keep on assuming it.

Being public is not that unpleasant for you?
Of course not. (a silence.)

Or does this frighten you?
No-oo! (a silence.) Life is like you live it, you know. I think that my fears and hopes are the same as everyone. I’ve never believed that being famous could make me an alien.

And neither does believe Mick Jagger. When asked, he just replies that snakes do frighten him more than being famous!
Snakes! I do hate spiders. Concerning fondamental topics, I believe that people are all the same. Unfortunately. Yes, unfortunately. We all have much in common but we build those barriers that we then don’t assume.

Well. “Men are born equal”, but some of them…
More equal than others!! (she laughs) Yeah!

Let’s stop kidding : when will you come and tour in France?
Right after the tour in U.K. we’ll be setting up a tour that will cover the rest of Europe : Deutschland, France, Switzerland and so on.

And what will be your next single be like?
“Child Come away”? Great… A delicious sax break in the middle, just like cherry on the cake. That song is kind of a fairy tale…

Do you like fairy tales?
I love them. Hans Christian Andersen’s “Small Siren” is my favourite one.

Don’t you prefer “The girl with the matches”?
I also like that one (she laughs). I like everything that’s marvellous and imaginary. You may interpret it as an escape. I do consider it’s just another way to see things. Anyway, everything that can inspire me or make me think, whatever it deals with, seems good to me. Well, almost everything.